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Business Etiquette

Greeting people with a smile and a handshake is usual. Men usually wait for women to offer their hand before shaking hands with them. The normal forms of address when meeting people in Britain, Australia and the United States are used in Canada too including `Good Morning’, `Hi’, `Hello’, or the more informal, `How are you?’.

Very intense eye contact is not usual, nor is standing very close to another person. Canadians are very tolerant and respectful but they are moderate in behavior and effusive displays of affection or emotion should be avoided.

Since Canada is officially bilingual, it is advisable to have English and French translations on business cards. Canadians do not always exchange business cards immediately when being introduced to new business associates.

Visitors should know in advance with whom they are meeting, their name, position and title. Knowledge of Canada, its history and traditions will make a good impression as Canadians are well-educated and have a high level of world awareness. Understanding – though not pointing out – the distinction between Canadians and Americans is advisable. Awareness of and respect for other cultures is appropriate as Canada is a markedly multicultural society.

Canadian communication

The Canadian communication style is calm and direct. Canadians are egalitarian and democratic, and will not take well to displays of authoritarian or overbearing behavior in others. They are good listeners but visitors should be prepared for and welcome debate; students are encouraged to question things from an early age.

Gifts can be presented on arrival at a business or private functions and will normally be unwrapped immediately and appreciation shown. Something from a visitor’s home country will be appropriate and welcome. Other acceptable gifts include wine or liquor, flowers, and chocolates. Items of clothing or jewelry may be considered too personal. A gift for any private host’s children will be especially appreciated but should be carefully chosen.

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